Monday, July 06, 2020

We’re going to have to wait a while before we see images like this from Spraoi again.

WITH Spraoi International Street Arts Festival cancelled on its traditional August Bank Holiday Weekend slot due to COVID-19 restrictions, organisers have announced an adapted model titled Spraoi Time 2020 which will be presented between September 4 and 13. The event will be presented each evening between 8.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. and is designed to maximise social-spacing of those attending.

Spraoi’s big crowd-pullers such as the annual parade and fireworks are postponed until 2021 as they proved impossible to deliver within social-spacing guidelines. However Spraoi Time 2020 will present an array of performances and installations to animate the city for audiences at night.

“Our idea is for people to have a new experience of their city at night. By presenting only in the evenings we won’t be competing for street-space with the retail sector by day, which will facilitate greater audience-spacing and people can attend over ten days rather than the usual three,” said Spraoi Artistic Director Mike Leahy.

Programming for Spraoi Time 2020 will include artistic installations at John Robert’s Square, George’s Street and Arundel Square. Special short-format performances are being commissioned from artists nationally and these will be presented as pop-ups in various novel city-centre locations. The overall experiences will incorporate elements of sculpture, spectacle, circus, music, light and sound.

“COVID-19 means our artists are operating with one hand tied behind their backs,” said Spraoi Director T.V. Honan. “This is not going to be a normal Spraoi. But we think it’s important we make every effort to boost the morale of audiences, artists and hard-hit Waterford businesses. This year’s Spraoi won’t be its usual celebratory-self but we think Spraoi Time 2020 will lift people’s spirits, hearts and minds.”

Spraoi’s change of dates now means it will overlap with Harvest Food Festival. Both events are co-operating to combine skills and resources for the benefit of Waterford by providing a domestic tourism boost as city and county enter the autumn season. These efforts to assist artists, audiences and tourism providers are supported and encouraged by Waterford Council, The Arts Council and Failte Ireland.

In recent weeks Waterford artists have re-started Spraoi Studios within COVID-19 working protocols. They are designing and creating a series of installation artworks that will be located in the city centre for both Spraoi Time 2020 and Harvest Food Festival. Spraoi and Waterford are in fact pioneering new models for creating and delivering the arts in a vastly changed environment as a result of COVID-19.

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